Lady Gaga, the queen of popular culture, has done it again. With her new and sensational music video to her most recent dance hit “Telephone,” she teams up with Beyonce—and a few product companies—to create a dizzy spell of a visual masterpiece.
I fidgeted anxiously in front of my computer screen, literally counting down the minutes until the premiere of “Telephon”. I kept refreshing my page, hoping that YouTube would allow me to witness a glimpse of Gaga’s brilliance. Nine minutes later, my mouth was agape, my eyes was wide open, and my body rigid, as if I had just undergone some sort of artistic seizure. Filled with spastic images, pop culture references and movie homages, the music video was definitely one of a kind.
A few minutes later, I encountered a Facebook status from another Lady Gaga follower. She stated that Gaga had “sold out” because of all the product placement propaganda strewn throughout the video. And yes, I had to admit, that from my consecutive viewings, I too had noticed quite a bit of product placements to the extent that one might question Gaga’s motives. But I was not too keen on admitting that my Gaga had sold out. But the question still lies within many fans—had she sold out or was this just another trick up her red-laced sleeve?
In her music video “Telephone,” Gaga uses a great deal of imagery in order to reference our current pop culture. And really, this is the genius of Gaga. Let us be honest with ourselves, we as a technology-ridden society, do not encompass that great of an attention span. In using such references to which we can pick out and relate to, Gaga makes the video easy and fun to watch despite its nine minute timeline. It offers the opportunity for multiple-viewings because of all the subtleties and nuances the video offers such as the “Telephone” lyrics in Swedish scrolling across the news scene. True to her persona, Gaga tries to embrace everyone as these references also extend out to a multitude of different people from Star Wars fanatics (the poisons in the kitchen scene) to Michael Jackson fans (the little shuffle in the jail scene).
And as for her bountiful product placements, including, but not limited, to Polaroid, PlentyOfFish, and Virgin Mobile, I say she can do whatever she wants. First of all, it is Gaga’s music video and as an artist, she can and should have free reign to do whatever she pleases. Allegedly, she was not paid to put Diet Cola cans in her hair; she simply did it because she wanted to.
Secondly, if you were offered a bunch of money to put in a little advertisement in your next endeavor, would you do it? Gaga is a smart cookie and knows exactly what she is doing. She did not get this far without knowing how to work within the business. Her upcoming business venture involves Polaroid, so what better advertisement is there than a music video that would eventually reach 25 million people?
And no, I personally do not believe that she sold out because she was still able to don police tape and demonically shake her head to the music, staying true to her always-outrageous performances. She did not tame herself in her music video (e.g. the jail scene kiss) to gain product placements, rather there was already a line of people waiting to be endorsed by a controversial artist. Perhaps, by ironically placing products in pop music, Gaga is also offering a commentary on today’s consumerism; we would not be so outraged at such blatant product placement if we could not identify them in the first place.
There is still talk of the music video even weeks after its premiere. There is still online buzz from it, evidenced in many articles counting out the video’s references and meanings. People are divided with this last music video: They either hate it or love it. And yet, people keep talking about Gaga and her work because simply put, it is different.
According to an interview with E! News, Gaga stated, “There’s certainly always a hidden message in my music videos. But I would say most predominately, I’m always trying to convolute everyone’s idea of what a pop music video should be.”
Although this last music video is not my favorite work of hers (blasphemy, I know), I still must commend her for her persistence as an interesting and passionate artist. Indeed, Gaga has convoluted our perceptions of what a music video is and I hope she continues to do so.